Friday, March 30, 2007

How many countries are there in Africa?

Here are some more fun resources for learning the names of all the countries in Africa. There are 53 of them, including the islands – Madagascar, Comoros, Seychelles, Cape Verde and Sao Tome and Principe.

In an earlier post , I gave a neat countdown tool from UC Berkeley that gives you 10 minutes to name all the countries.

Now I have found some other fun ways to learn the countries. Owl and Mouse has a free download that lets you drop outlines of the countries onto the map of Africa.

43 things has a challenge that asks you to point to the countries as they are named. And PurposeGames has a similar map with a counter tells you how long you took and colour codes indicate whether it took you 1, 2 or 3 tries to identify it. As you mouse-over different countries, their names appear, and that helps you learn them.

I thought I would do OK on this task because I have learnt the names of all the countries by doing the Berkeley challenge. But so far I keep getting stuck on one of the countries. Where IS Malawi!! (OK, that long thing isn’t a lake, it is a country!). On my latest try, I scored 86% in 3.5 minutes. Definite improvement!

You’ll want a good map so you can study the countries before you take any of these challenges. Here is one from

Check out new developments in the formation of the East African Community in this item on my blog.

I don’t know about you, but I find it stimulating and expansive to learn new things. Somehow, the world is becoming a clearer place for me now that I know a lot more about Africa. Knowing the shape of the continent and having a better idea about the countries, gives me an indefinably clearer understanding of the issues and news I encounter.

The children at the School of St Jude in northern Tanzania are learning something similar. Their world is expanding as they receive a standard of education that is only possible through the support of people like you and me.

Why don't you take one of these learning challenges and report your score here?

Or you could just click through to the School of St Jude and make a small donation! Go on – make use of the interactivity of the web!

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Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Get to know Genofeva

Miss Genofeva is one of the teachers that I sponsor at the School of St Jude. She has been at the School since 2004, teaching Kinder and Prep classes, but this year she is the homeroom teacher for Class 1F and teaches Kiswahili in Standards 1 and 2.

Genofeva is a member of the Girls’ Affairs committee that helps female students address issues that specifically affect them. In addition, she is part of the Staff Support committee that provides peer support to teachers.

She is a very busy lady, because as well as teaching, she has a one-year old daughter and also cares for her four year old niece who was orphaned.

Her gentle spirit is evident in her care for others.

She says she is proud to work at The School of St Jude because she understands the importance of educating fellow Tanzanians who, due to poverty, haven’t been blessed with the opportunities she enjoys.

The School of St Jude relies on the professional knowledge and commitment of teachers like Genofeva to bring the best standard of education to children from very poor homes.

Your support for the school makes it possible for Tanzanians like Genofeva to build a better future for their country.

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Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Health checks for school kids

Every year, the Tanzanian government requires schools to check the eyesight, height and weight of EVERY child in the school. So St Jude's has just been through the exercise of measuring, weighing and inspecting all 850 students. A team of volunteer trainee doctors visited the school and worked non-stop to get the job done. They added extra checks such a hearing and general body check! A BIG thanks goes to Mr and Mrs Ryan, Miss Davina, Miss Sarah-Beth, Mr Gurj who came from America, Australia and the UK and also to our Irish volunteers Miss Rebecca, Miss Niamh and finally to Mr Jacob from Australia.

Checking every ear in the school

This was the first year the School had the resources to check the ears of every student. They discovered that more than 75% of students had blocked or partially blocked ears due to too much wax. So now the School is educating parents and guardians about the need to clean their child’s ears out gently a few times each year.

The health checks also revealed that lots of the new students need glasses and many have skin infections. Many of these problems would typically go undetected in a Tanzanian home and make concentrating and learning so much more difficult. 85 students were found to require glasses and so over the coming month the School will help them to see an eye doctor in town for further investigation.

It ain't glamorous, but worm medicine puts a smile on faces!

Worms are a major problem in most of the developing world, and especially in poor countries like Tanzania. They are most prevalent in school-age children and while normally not life-threatening, infections cause chronic health problems in children. These include anemia, malnutrition, and diminished cognitive development that usually results in noticeably lower test scores and attendance.

The wonderful group of doctors doing the St Judes health checks helped to source worming tablets for not only each student, but also 3 other people in each family. The school has purchased thousands of doses and will be educating the families of students how to take the tablets etc.

A very big thank you to PFIZER AUSTRALIA for donating thousands for worming tablets. Our children and their families greatly appreciate it!

The School of St Jude stretches its resources to the maximum so that these bright children from the poorest homes have the best chance of getting an excellent education. This school is like an ark. It provides a protected environment that removes many of the obstacles facing these children. It provides uniforms, free lunches, health checks and medicine, as well as excellent classroom teaching.

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Friday, March 23, 2007

Book launch events

From the 23rd April to the 8th May, Gemma Sisia will be going around Australia to launch her book St Jude's at "Friends of St Jude's" functions in various cities and towns.

The aim of these functions is to:

  1. Bring current and new supporters together in a friendly atmosphere.
  2. Educate people who have never heard of this school, by showing a short visual presentation. Gemma will also be giving updates and information about future projects for both old and prospective supporters.
  3. Launch the book St Jude's and sell copies. Sales of the book at these events will benefit the school directly. People who buy a book during the function will also receive a free DVD about the school.

Full details of the book launch events around Australia are on the School website. The cost seems to range from $10-$50 depending on the refreshments (tea, breakfast, dinner, whatever) and you will need to book a place if you want to go.

Here is the list of places and dates.

Friday 20th April - Gordon, Sydney
Monday 23rd April - Dubbo
Tuesday 24th April - Potts Point, Sydney
Thursday 26th April - Brisbane CBD
Thursday 26th April - Auchenflower, Brisbane
Friday 27th April - Centenary, Brisbane
Saturday 28th April - Bendigo
Sunday 29th April - Scotch College, Melbourne
Monday 30th April - Toorak, Melbourne
Tuesday 1st May - Hyde Park, Adelaide
Wednesday 2nd May - Glenunga, Adelaide
Thursday 3rd May - Perth
Saturday 5th May -Armidale
Monday 7th May - Inverell
Tuesday 8th May - Tamworth

So, if you would like to meet the remarkable Gemma Sisia and make contact with other St Jude's supporters in your area, book a place and share the joy!

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Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Drilling for water

To connect with World Water Day on 22 March, ABC Local Radio is running a water awareness campaign called The 40 hour Drought. Listeners are encouraged to commit to using only 40 litres of water across a 40 hour period and to experience what it is like to live with a limited amount of water.

I have blogged here and here about the drought in Tanzania last year that brought the country to its knees when the hydro electricity failed and power was rationed to just a couple of hours a day.

While the rains have come, the local village water supply can’t meet the growing needs of the School of St Jude with its 870 children, plus 170 staff, plus building operations. This is why raintanks are needed at the school (see the Chipin tool on this page which is raising money for rainwater tanks).

New classroom building – gutters and downpipes, but no water tanks.

This new classroom building was finished in January this year, just in time for the new school year and an extra 150 students. There was not enough money to install water tanks, so the downpipes drain to the open ground.

Right now, the School is also drilling for a new borehole, praying that a new water source will be found to supplement the current supply.

Hoping to find water in the new borehole

In Tanzania, one of the poorest countries in the world, everything is harder! You don’t just open a school and focus on education policies, teacher recruitment and curriculum. You also drill for water and install water tanks. What’s next? Solar power?

Keep in touch, learn about it, and lend some help.

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Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Excellence again!

The second group of St Jude’s students blitzes the exams.

The results have been announced for the second group of St Jude’s students to complete the Standard 4 national exams in Mathematics, Science, English, Kiswahili and Social Studies.
In the previous year when 27 St Jude’s students sat the exam, they excelled — Esuvat was placed first in the district of 17,000 students (you can read about her here) and several St Jude’s students placed in the top 10 students in the district. A fantastic achievement for these children from the poorest homes!

In the recent exams in 2006, 123 St Jude’s students sat the exam – an extra 100 students, but the School doesn’t seem to mind that kind of challenge. And how did they do? They were fantastic! The students had an average of 90% which placed the School of St Jude as second amongst 200 schools in the district.

Gemma says:
We owe a huge congratulations to all teachers and staff who worked so hard because getting an extra 100 students ready for the exams is no mean feat at all. We are still waiting from the Education office for the list of students who did best out of the 17,000+ candidates.

Here is a photo of the five students who did the best from St Jude’s – scoring over 245 out of 250.

Mr Nestory, Academic Master, standing proudly with students Elizabeth, Arnold, Jovanesta, Agnes, Blandina and Carolyn.

If you want to join the band of enthusiastic supporters who are giving these children from the poorest homes the chance to excel, you can become a sponsor by visiting the School website link. If you would like to give a small amount right now, just click on the Chipin tool on this page.

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Monday, March 19, 2007

World Water Day 2007

The World Bank Water Week 2007 is just over, and the UN World Water Day is coming on March 22.

'Coping with Water Scarcity' is the theme for World Water Day 2007. This year's theme highlights the increasing significance of water scarcity worldwide and the need for increased integration and cooperation to ensure sustainable, efficient and equitable management of scarce water resources, both at international and local levels.

Last year, drought in Tanzania made water a key issue for the School of St Jude. Water was severely rationed, and volunteers learned the value of buckets for all kinds of uses.

Take a look at this useful UN website about Coping with Water Scarcity, and discover how poor countries and poor people are affected by lack of safe water supplies.

My regular readers will know that I love maps — you only have to browse through a few posts to pick that up! — so here is a GREAT map from Maplethorpe that shows worldwide access to water and sanitation. Tanzania is rated as high risk because only 73% of people have access to safe drinking water, and only 46% have safe sanitation.

To take immediate action, you can click on the Chipin widget on this website to make a small donation that will help secure safe drinking water for the School of St Jude — fighting poverty through education.

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Friday, March 16, 2007

Climbing Kilimanjaro

On the 28/08/07 a group of energetic Rotarians, one Lion and Friends will be climbing Mount Kilimanjaro, Tanzania in Africa.

The climbers will be raising money to assist AIDS orphans in Africa and to continue the good work being done by Rotary for the School of St. Jude. The organisers welcome anyone who is interested in climbing or who would like to sponsor the climb. Your assistance will help the three beneficiaries:

* The School of St Jude, Tanzania
* Operation Medical Hope, Hout Bay, Cape Town
* RFFA Rotarians For Fighting AIDS, Orphan Rescue South Africa & Kenya

The climb has an excellent web site and blog where you can keep up to date or leave a comment.

The Rotary Clubs of Coolamon and Forbes Ipomoea from the Riverina of New South Wales, Australia have combined to organise this event and you may contact the two following leaders of the event for further information.

Project Contacts

John Glassford, Rotary Coolamon
email: john (at)
61 2 6927 6027

Sharon Daishe, Rotary Forbes Ipomoea
email: sharon.daishe (at)
61 2 6851 5085

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Tuesday, March 13, 2007

It is all coming together

I get the sense that things are finally coming together for many African countries. This ‘coming together’ is the result of incremental changes across the spectrum. Two news items in the past week show an aspect of this.

One is the news about the new road to be built from Arusha north into Kenya (my blog yesterday). The other news item is that Prof Maghembe, Tanzania’s Minister for Natural Resources and Tourism, led a delegation to the US in February to represent Tanzania at the New York Times Travel Show and then visit Dallas and San Diego. The report noted that tourism to Tanzania is booming with arrivals increasing by 12% in the past year. The UK and US are prime tourism markets.

Rumit Mehta (L) and Dr. Jumanne Abdallah Maghembe

Rumit Mehta, Director of Business Development, Safari Ventures, a co-sponsor of the trip, said:

It is important that Tanzania is represented by such high-level of delegates led by the Honarable Minister. It allows the American public to meet face-to-face and discuss the destination with their hosts- including the Minister himself. It infuses confidence in the tour operators such as Safari Ventures that Tanzania is a serious contender in promoting tourism and investment.

Tanzanian tourism has been helped by increased focus in the media on Tanzania’s unique natural attractions, including USA Today naming the Serengeti National Park as the new ‘7th Wonder of the World’, (blogged here).

To change the system, we have to work on the whole system. Increased tourism helps to justify investment in better infrastructure like roads, and better roads help tourism. We need to work on both the roads and the tourism.

Of course, the School of St Jude is a mini-tourism event in itself. It attracts hundreds of visitors a year to Arusha. These visitors come to see the school, visit friends who are volunteering there, or they come help out (see my post about Rotary volunteers).

A Minister visits the US and jobs are created in Arusha, the centre for Tanzanian safari tourism. This means better job prospects for poor families in the Arusha district and future job/business opportunities for the children at St Judes.

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Japan's aid commitment to Tanzania

Japan has committed to give Tanzania US$82m for general budget support and to finance the national strategy for economic growth and reduction of poverty, commonly known as Mkukuta.

Most of the money, US$60m, will be directed to the 240 km Arusha-Namanga and Namanga-Athi River road development projects. This is the road that goes from Arusha across the border to Kenya. A better road will support support regional integration, cross border trade, tourism, socio-economic development of the area and contribute to the reduction of poverty. As most visitors to the School of St Jude fly into Nairobi, this new road will make the trip from Nairobi to Arusha MUCH more comfortable!

The rest of the money will support the National Strategy for growth and Reduction of Poverty and US$5.5m will contribute to the pooled Fund for the Poverty Monitoring System. This system is used by all donors to ensure that aid funding is directed to projects that will contribute towards the Millennium Development Goals. Tanzania receives budget support from 14 donor countries. These funds account for 20% of the Tanzanian government budget so it is important for donors to see that the funds are directed to help lift the country out of extreme poverty.

Another sign that the Tanzanian economic system is improving is the decision by the Japanese Development Bank to to re-introduce the Yen Loan Facility which has lain suspended for 25 years. Bank officials said:

The re-introduction of the facility is a reflection of the improvement in macroeconomic management in the country and strengthening its debt sustainability.

This news is another reflection that Tanzania is taking big steps towards better governance and effective economic management. Without better management, extreme poverty cannot be eradicated.

Lunch at the School of St Jude

Better economic management means that the kids who are getting an excellent education at the School of St Jude will grow up with better prospects for meaningful work and livelihoods.

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Monday, March 12, 2007

A day in the life of four women

8 March 2007 - Imagine that your main dream is finding enough food to feed your children every day and your hopes focus on returning to the home from which you were forced to flee. To mark International Women's Day, four African women tell us about their thoughts and their daily lives.

This World Food Programme website features a day in the life of four African women. It gives a wonderful parallel with the four women I profiled in my last post to this blog.

I encourage you to read these short accounts of these four women. We need to open our eyes and allow ourselves to see what the lives of others are like. When we stay busy with our own immediate concerns, we become blind to larger perspectives.

One of the women, Veronique Begimana from Burundi, says:
But without food or money it’s difficult to have hope for the future. Things don’t change very much for us. Life isn’t beautiful.

The School of St Jude in northern Tanzania serves the children of the poorest people, to provide them with quality education and give them hope for the future. Your contribution will help.

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Friday, March 09, 2007

International Womens Day

March 8 is International Women’s Day, so I would like to acknowledge four women who are using their talent and energy to help others.

First, of course, there is the remarkable Gemma Sisia, visionary and founder of the School of St Jude.

Gemma was a ‘mere slip of a girl’ in her 20s when she took the first steps towards establishing the school. Under her care, it is growing by about 150 students a year. In time, it will serve 2,500 children from kindergarten to Yr 12. Just running a quality school in one of the poorest countries in the world is challenging, but this school is entirely supported by fund-raising. Last year the budget was AU$1million – a testament to her talent, determination, persuasiveness and good sense!

Michaelle Jean is the Governor General of Canada and what a remarkable voice she brings to this prominent role. For International Womens Day, she chose to travel to Afghanistan, to bring attention to the needs of women who are enduring the difficult circumstances of life in a broken country.

Michaelle Jean with President Karzai on 8 March 2007

Throughout these dark, terrible years, I often imagined the terror of their daily lives and I cried out inside with indignation for all those who could not. For me and for so many others, the hand they were dealt was unacceptable. To attack the dignity of women is to fly in the face of life itself; it is to make a mockery of humanity. Still today, Afghan women face harsh realities on a daily basis. I know that less than 10 per cent of Afghan women give birth with a qualified person present, and that these dangerous conditions are responsible for over 50 per cent of the deaths of Afghan women of child-bearing age. As a mother, it pains me to know that the infant mortality rate in Afghanistan is close to 20 per cent.

I am here, with Afghan women, to tell them myself how convinced I am that we need to take action on their behalf, while remaining respectful of their needs and aspirations.

Meryl Streep has achieved the height of her profession and become world famous in the process.

Here she is with Nancy Birdsall and Geeta Rao Gupta as a special guest at the gala event presented by the International Center for Research on Women to commemorate International Womens Day 2007. In this role she lent her name and support to causes that help women in the poorest countries. A lunch with Meryl topped the bids at the auction. The lunch will reflect Meryl’s grounded life – she said the menu will include her own home-made egg salad sandwiches. She is a great role model for women everywhere.

My fourth woman-of-note is Queen Rania of Jordan who I have mentioned before. She has taken up the fine legacy of Queen Noor to walk the world stage and speak out for the needs of women, especially poor women. She is an important voice for Islamic moderates.

Empowering women today is, perhaps, the single greatest legacy we can bestow upon our children. Our daughters, watching in admiration, will be inspired to emulate our initiatives and excel in their chosen fields. Our sons, proud of the positive changes they see not only in their families but also in society, will recognize the value of empowering women. Ultimately, we will all benefit from a more cohesive and active global community, renowned for respecting each other and proud of the strong foundations it has built, together.

Countries of Africa Challenge. I did it again today and this time I got 40! Dramatic improvement, eh? This time I remembered Algeria (no way I was going to forget it again!), but I forgot Uganda! – which I got yesterday. Good thing that ‘tomorrow is another day’, to quote Scarlet O’Hara in ‘Gone with the Wind’!

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Thursday, March 08, 2007

Countries of Africa Challenge!

Here's a fun game developed by UC Berkeley students. This website challenges you to name the 53 African countries in 10 minutes. A clock counts down as you type in the names. When you have finished, it posts the names of the countries you omitted.

African Country Countdown

On my first try, I got a miserable 25 countries. I forgot some of the big ones (like Algeria, duh!) but I was pleased to get some unlikely ones. I tried it on my husband and it was fun to see the ones he knew that I missed. And even more fun to see the ones I got that he didn't!

Now I think I'll try a daily challenge. Let's see how long it takes me to learn the names of all the countries in Africa. I'll post my daily tally here – to keep me honest!

Would you like to try it too? Post your daily tally in the comments section. Let's see all our numbers grow. Here's a map of Africa as a reference. As we learn the names of the countries, we can check the map to see where they are, how big they are and what their climate is likely to be.

Map Source: BBC

The School of St Jude is in northern Tanzania, near the border with Kenya. How many countries have borders with Tanzania?

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Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Another great map!

The World Resources Institute report, World Resources 2005 -- The Wealth of the Poor: Managing ecosystems to fight poverty, details the steps necessary to empower the poor to use ecosystems both wisely and for wealth. The book presents lots of current information on environmental, social, and economic trends in more than 150 countries. The full World Resources database is accessible and searchable online at EarthTrends.

Here is one of the maps from the book. It shows how climate change will affect growing seasons in Africa in 2000-2050. The brown areas show which areas will be under greater stress through reduced agricultural production.

As I am deeply interested Tanzania, I peer closely at the map to see how it will be affected. I see that most of Tanzania is brown, meaning shorter growing seasons and lower food production. This means more malnourished children who will die young of preventable diseases.

The following map shows that in 1996 ALL districts of Tanzania had more than 14% of children underweight. In some districts, this was up to 48%. These figures can only get worse when climate change reduces the length of growing seasons.

I feel some relief to see that the northern edge of Tanzania, where the School of St Jude is in Arusha, will have longer growing seasons. Still, the country as a whole is facing the prospect of greater stress on food production.

When we care about an issue, we seek information so we are informed. We want to know what happens at the local level and also at the larger, national level. We want to know what is happening right now, and what the longer term holds. With good information, we have a clearer view and can make informed choices.

I believe that education is an investment in the future. For a relatively small donation to the School of St Jude, you can equip a bright child from the poorest family to be a teacher, doctor, nurse, engineer, a leader of the future. Desperately poor countries like Tanzania CANNOT advance without these professional skills. What a huge gift you will give – to the individual child, their family, their community and their country.

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Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Book launch in April 2007

Gemma Sisia’s book ‘St Jude’s’ tells the story of her lively childhood with seven older brothers and how she came to establish the School of St Jude.

All book shops around Australia, New Zealand and South Africa will be selling the book, however if you are not from one of these countries then you can email the School on schoolofstjude [at] to order a copy. The School will sell the book for $33 and this price includes a free DVD about the school. Proceeds from the book will go directly to the school.

However, if you are from Australia, then it would be great if you could buy your book(s) from one of the many "Friends of St Jude's" functions which will be held around Australia late April/early May. If you do, then you will still receive a free DVD with each copy bought, along with the knowledge of the fact that the proceeds from the book will go directly to the school.

Sydney – Tues 24th April
Brisbane – Thurs 26th April
Melbourne – Mon 30th April
Adelaide Tues – 1St May
Perth Thurs – 3rd May

Gemma's story is as inspiring as her life! The ABC's Australian Story episode about Gemma was selected for the 'Best Of' showcase that went to air a second time. So, I expect that the book will be a good read, and a good gift for friends with a lively curiosity about the world.

Can't wait! Think I'll have to, though.

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Monday, March 05, 2007

Does international aid make a difference?

There is an entrenched view in some quarters that all the millions of dollars given to poor countries in the past 50 years have made no difference to poverty because the money is wasted, misused or syphoned off by corrupt officials. Those who hold this view have good reason to give nothing and so the continuing cycle of poverty persists.

Students from poor families at St Judes donate to those in greater need

In contrast with this helpless worldview, others have been active in finding ways to ensure that international aid is directed towards reducing poverty. As a result, we see campaigns like the Millennium Development Goals, the End of Poverty, Red, and so forth.

The big shift that has come about from this 'what can we do about it' approach, is that Official Development Aid (ODA) is increasingly tied to performance on poverty reduction.

I have blogged here and here about some specific consequences for Tanzania. Today I read that Bangladesh is being held to account by a group of donor countries on its tardiness in implementing its Poverty Reduction Strategy.

The Local Consultative Group, a platform of the country's bilateral and multilateral donors, has made it clear that unless the government moves forward on implementating the Poverty Reduction Strategy, the donor community will not commit to assisting future programs and projects.

The donor groups have advised the government to hold the Poverty Reduction Strategy Implementation Forum without delay in order to ensure the flow of aid.

This new approach to official aid by the world community should give hope to private donors who support projects like the School of St Judes. Offical aid is important in improving good governance and infrastructure on a country-wide basis. This means that the kids who are getting a great education at the School of St Jude will grow up in a community with better economic prospects and better services.

So, if you get a chance, you can encourage your government to direct its official aid towards the alleviation of extreme poverty in the world's poorest countries. Recently, I wrote to all 150 MPs in the Australian House of Representatives. My own representative, Brendan Nelson, sent a poorly-researched reply that avoided the key points and presented a mix of lies and misrepresentation. I think I will have to reply. No wonder we are constantly disappointed and cynical about our politicians – most of them play the game of defending fixed positions instead of facing issues and presenting useful strategies for moving forward.

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Sunday, March 04, 2007

Every day

Every year, every month, every day is a challenging new adventure at the School of St Jude. The remarkable thing is that this school is run by people who have never done this before. It is growing at such a rapid rate that Gemma and the staff stand in the face of unknowns every day.

The skills learnt in running a four classroom school a couple of years ago need to be extended and adapted to run the 30 classroom school that operates this year.

New classroom with desks and chairs ready for January 2007

Fortunately, Gemma has strong planning skills. Since starting the school, she has gradually built up the leadership team so that now, in 2007, she has little to do with day to day aspects of the academic side of the school. Every Wednesday she meets with staff and on Fridays she meets with the leaders of the school.
Other than that, the day-to-day running of the school is done by the leadership team.

2007 Leadership Team

From left we have Mr Nick (Head of Computers Department), Mr Koringo (Head of Mathematics), Sr Wanyaga (Head of Music, Art, Library, PE and RE), Sitting on the swing is the Academic Master of the entire school, Mr Nestory, and on his right is Miss Diana (Head of Kiswahili), Miss Belinda (Head of Science), Mr Sebastian (Head of Social Studies), Mr Peter (Deputy of the school), Mr Didas (Head of English), Miss Coletha (Head of the Jr School), Miss Husna (Assistant Academic Head) and squatting in the front is Mr Ben (Deputy of the school).

In the front of the picture are Mr George and Mr Rasul who are training to be leaders for the new campus at Usa River that will open in 2008. Gemma is thinking ahead so that the new campus will have the buildings and the staff to serve new classes.

Join the team of supporters and watch this amazing project grow from strength to strength. You can add your support by making a small donation through the Chipin donation tool at the top of the page. Or you can go to the School website to sponsor a child, a bus, a teacher, a computer, or anything else!

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Saturday, March 03, 2007

Millennium Development Goals

Part of the fanfare for the new millennium was the United Nations announcement of Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). There are eight broad goals and 18 specific targets. Each target is expressed in unequivocal terms that are easy to measure – the whole world can see when targets are not being met.

Goal 1, Eradicate extreme poverty and hunger, has two specific targets –
  • Target 1. Halve, between 1990 and 2015, the proportion of people whose income is less than $1 a day
  • Target 2. Halve, between 1990 and 2015, the proportion of people who suffer from hunger.
As we are now halfway to the target year of 2015, it is time to look at what progress is being made. This graph shows the overall picture for Tanzania.

It is clear that, while progress has been made since 1990, at the current rate the 2015 targets won’t be met.

The UN reports that in terms of progress regarding the specific MDGs, by 2004 Tanzania had achieved targets in
  • Primary school net enrollment (MDG 2 Universal Primary Education)
  • Equity in primary education (MDG 3 Promote Gender Equality and Empower Women)
  • Access to safe water (MDG 7 Ensure Environmental Sustainability).
  • Tanzania is also on track to meeting female ratio targets in secondary schools (MDG 3) and other targets for MDGs 2 and 7. Furthermore, preliminary data from the Demographic Health Survey (2004/5) show a trend from 147 to 112 per 1,000 live births. Steep decline in under-five child mortality rates from 1999. While still preliminary, this is indeed very impressive and if such trends are maintained then Tanzania is also on track to achieve MDG 4 (Reduce Child Mortality).

So, it is fantastic that some of these early steps are being achieved. These are just the first steps on a long, hard journey. While overall primary school enrolment targets have been met, this has happened at the cost of ridiculously high class sizes in schools with untrained teachers and few books.

The next step is to keep building more classrooms, keep training more teachers and keep buying more books, equipment and computers for all the new students.

The School of St Jude is making a big contribution towards the MDGs because it gives the poorest children access to a well-equipped school, class sizes of 30 and teachers that get ongoing training to improve their skills. This is possible thanks to the many contributions made by hundreds of supporters world-wide. With your help, we can see the end of extreme poverty in our lifetimes.

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Friday, March 02, 2007

Fifth African Population Conference

From the Arusha Times

Arusha has been picked to host the Fifth African Population Conference scheduled to be held late this year.

The meeting is being held against the backdrop of the burden of hunger, malaria, HIV/AIDS that is slowing development in the continent.

Prominent researchers, policy makers, program managers, international development partners, and other key stakeholders from different African countries are expected to attend the meeting.

'Hunger and widespread poverty are serious challenges facing Africa,' said the Tanzanian Vice-President, Dr. Ali Shein Mohamed, when opening a preparatory forum in Dar es Salaam for the forthcoming meeting.

Tanzania HIV/AIDS indicators survey conducted between 2003 and 2004, shows that 7 per cent of the adults aged 15 to 49 years, on the mainland, were infected with HIV.

Infection rate among women, according to the latest statistics, is higher, standing at 8 per cent compared to men, 6 per cent.

He described rapid urbanization as another development challenge derailing fast economic growth in African countries.

The problem led to the creation of a segment of urban poor, living in informal settlements that lack basic amenities. Emerging evidence shows that the urban poor face health, economic, and social disadvantage compared to other sub-groups.

In Tanzania, population living in urban areas increased from 5 per cent in 1967 to 13 per cent in 1978, and from 21 per cent in 1988 to 27 per cent in 2002.

The vice president has also launched the 2006 country’s population policy to direct development of other policies, strategies and programs to enhance development sustainability and reduce poverty.

The policy, which has been revised, also targets to increase and improve availability and accessibility of high quality social services, attainment of gender equity, equality, women empowerment, social justice and development for all, and harmonious interrelationships between population, resource utilisation and the environment.


The Tanzanian government is setting policy directions that will support economic development and a culture of fairness and justice. This is another step towards better governance.

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Thursday, March 01, 2007

Dynamic map of African history

Here’s a gorgeous thing from Brown University.

Animated Atlas of African History

The Animated Atlas of African History is a map that shows year-by-year changes of selected themes in the history of Africa between 1879 and 2002. Toggle buttons allow you to select which thematic layers to activate. Choices include:

  • Territory names
  • Changing boundaries, imperial rulers and political systems
  • Violent conflicts
  • Economic and demographic trends

You can advance or reverse the chronology and change the speed and pause on particular years. The site also offers a textual summary of the year-by-year changes. The Flash-based animation may be operated interactively on the web or downloaded as Mac OS X or Windows executibles.

The map is designed to be an instructional tool at the secondary and college levels as well as for the general learner.

Brown University teaches a course in African Environmental History. Check out the online course guide for some great resources.

What a great educational resource! And because it is online, the kids at St Judes can use it to learn about African history. I love it when these extremely poor children living in homes with dirt floors and no electricity can access excellent learning resources like this!

Thanks Brown University! This outreach program is great!

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